Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers has accepted the inevitable blame that followed star forward Kevin Durant’s Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night in Toronto.
Durant was making his return from the calf injury he suffered during the Western Conference Finals on May 8, and although he was cleared to return by team doctors, the Warriors still faced criticism for putting him on the court.
‘I blame the Warriors for KD getting hurt and I don’t care what they say about it,’ NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley told ESPN, which is reporting that the injury is a torn Achilles.
Myers anticipated this criticism in the early hours of Tuesday morning while addressing reporters in Toronto.
‘He was cleared to play tonight; that was a collaborative decision,’ Myers said. ‘I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame, but I understand in this world and if you have to, you can blame me. I run our basketball operations department.’
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant glances up at the stands as he walks off the court after sustaining an injury during first half basketball action in Game 5 of the NBA Finals
(Left) Recording artist Drake reacts with Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) after an apparent injury during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors. Warriors general manager Bob Myers (right) said ‘multiple doctors’ cleared Durant to return on Monday
Myers also made it clear that Durant wanted to return, in spite of the fact that he was expected to opt out of his current contract and any potential injury risk could affect his market value this summer.
‘And to tell you something about Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong,’ Myers said.
Myers then reiterated that he does not believe anyone is truly responsible for the injury: ‘I don’t think there’s anybody to blame, but I get it, that stuff happens. I hope nobody does.’
There was plenty of grief to go around in the wake Golden State’s miraculous but costly Game 5 win.
In addition to Myers, who was on the verge of tears during his press conference, New Yorkers lamented the loss of the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets’ top-free agent target.
Both teams were expected to pursue the 30-year-old Durant in free agency this summer, according to multiple reports, but now he could feasibly opt in to the final year of his contract with Golden State to stay with the Warriors next season and become a free agent in the summer of 2020.
Prior to the injury, Durant was expected to command well over $30 million a season on a new deal.
However offering that much to Durant seems imprudent now that he could be looking at a year of rehabilitation, if he did, in fact, tear his Achilles.
Whereas former NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins managed to successfully return from a torn Achilles in the 1990s, legends such as Kobe Bryant and Patrick Ewing both struggled to recover from the same injury in their 30s and were out of the league soon thereafter.
If Durant decides to opt in to the final year of his deal, this summer’s free agent class will still include his teammate, Klay Thompson, Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, and Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker.
One person with a positive outlook is Durant’s mother Wanda, whom he dedicated his NBA MVP award to during an emotional speech in 2014.
‘For ALL of you who question my son as a Man, question his Heart, question his Integrity and question his LOVE for the game of basketball, you DON’T know him,’ Wanda Durant wrote on Twitter. ‘He has a heart of a true Warrior! This too shall pass. God Bless you ALL.’
Durant has yet to speak publicly since injuring his calf on May 8. He would have spoken to reporters after Game 5, but was no longer required to do so after suffering his injury.
Taken out of the University of Texas with the second pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, Durant started his career with the Seattle SuperSonics before the franchise moved in his second season to Oklahoma City, where they became the Thunder.
Since then he has been named to 10 All-Star teams, won the NBA MVP in 2014, and after signing in Golden State in 2016, has won a pair of NBA titles and two NBA Finals MVP awards.
Over 12 NBA seasons, Durant has earned over $187 million in salary.